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Friday, September 12, 2008

Bulls’ QB eerily familiar to KU

Matt Grothe is the man that makes the South Florida offense go. The Bulls junior quarterback started against KU two years ago in Lawrence. Back then, he was just a freshman.

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Full video coverage of the Jayhawks' Week 3 showdown with South Florida.

Despite having seen only limited game footage of South Florida as of Tuesday afternoon, members of the Kansas University secondary unit already had seen something eerily familiar while watching Bulls quarterback Matt Grothe pick apart opposing defenses.

"He reminds us of Todd (Reesing)," Kansas cornerback Chris Harris said.

In addition to possessing many of the same physical qualities as Reesing - below-average height, an ability to move well in the pocket - Grothe has something else in common with the Jayhawks' gunslinger: He finds ways to win football games.

Just 12 years after the South Florida program was started from scratch (when the team was founded in 1997, coaches did the team's laundry), the Bulls are a national wonder. They crept to a No. 2 ranking after a 6-0 start last season and enter today's 7 p.m. game against Kansas at Raymond James Stadium with a 2-0 record and a No. 19 national ranking.

While there are various reasons for the Bulls' recent ascension - a top-notch coach in Jim Leavitt, a defense that is currently ranked first in the nation in total defense - there's no denying the impact Grothe has had on the team's success.

A former Florida 4A Player of the Year at Lake Gibson High, Grothe elected to sign with South Florida and, following a red-shirt season, promptly led the Bulls to their first winning season as a member of the Big East Conference.

What has set him apart from various other quarterbacks across the land, however, is his ability to make plays on the ground. He was the Bulls' leading rusher in 2007 with 872 yards and 10 touchdowns and attributes his ability to avoid tackles and make room for himself in the pocket to the years he has spent taking karate (he owns a black belt).

"He's probably the best quarterback we've seen so far this season because of the running ability," Harris said. "He's basically another running back for them. He's not scared to take a hit. He just lowers his shoulder and tries to run over people."

Added Mangino, "He runs various plays that are designed for the quarterback to carry the football in the same way that a tailback would carry the football."

If there's a knock on Grothe, it's that he sometimes struggles with accuracy. Last season, he passed for 2,670 yards and 14 touchdowns with a 59.2-percent completion percentage, but he also threw 14 interceptions, some coming at especially inopportune times.

During the Bulls' three-game losing streak that dropped them from the Top 25, Grothe threw seven picks, including four in a 38-33 loss to Cincinnati.

This season, though, he seems to have benefited from an extra year of experience and the return of 10 offensive starters.

In his first game this season, he threw just eight passes, but two went for touchdowns as South Florida routed UT Martin. Last week, he threw three more touchdowns, one in overtime, to seal the Bulls' 31-24 victory over Central Florida.

"When you have the opportunity to make plays, you have to make plays," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "Their quarterback made those plays."

Tonight, Grothe is hoping to make a few more.

As a red-shirt freshman two years ago, Grothe completed 17 of 32 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown, but threw two costly interceptions in a 12-7 loss to Kansas in Lawrence.

And having had his fill of less-qualified opponents so far this season, he's ready to line up against a nationally ranked opponent.

"I'd rather be playing games like this than cupcakes," he said.

Comments

JBurtin 6 years ago

p>www.channelsurfing.net is carrying it.You'll have to download their player, but it's a very small and minimally invasive procedure.Espn 360 is also going to broadcast it, but it usually takes a very fast internet connection to handle their feeds. They have something like five games playing at the bottom of the screen in thumbnail size, plus the big video of whichever one you choose to watch. You can pause the ones down low on the screen to speed up your feed, but a DSL connection still won't handle it. You'll need a pretty fast cable connection to watch it there.

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OklahomaJayhawk5 6 years ago

Yes yes it is GAMEDAY!!! Look for the Crimson tops tonight, I am almost sure they will wear them!! And we all know what happened the last time we wore them!!

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truefan 6 years ago

We can't get cocky tonight. Our team needs to play a good game to come out of South Florida with a W. Unfortunately the Bulls are good at finding a way to win at home. We'll see if we can find a way to disrupt that. I recommend the defense we used against Brad Smith when he was playing at MU. Don't collapse the pocket and force him to pass. If he scrambles he is already surrounded and has no where to go.

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JBurtin 6 years ago

Kind of funny that the article is about how similar Grothe and Reesing are, yet he mentions that Grothe throws interceptions at key moments in games.If he throws interceptions, then they are nothing alike.They have a poor man's Bill Whittemore,we have a genuine Reesing.

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Chad Dexter 6 years ago

Umm, wasn't the score 2 years ago 13-7? Not 12-7?

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KU 6 years ago

Visitors wear white or light-colored tops in college football. I doubt if KU wears crimson tonight.

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gleece 6 years ago

Could anyone recommend how i might be able watch the game live tonight? i moved recently and don't have cable or satellite, and i have to stay at home tonight with the baby. is there a website i can see it on?

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KU 6 years ago

truefan......I think you have a point about how to defend Grothe. We have to keep him in the pocket. We let the QBs of our first two opponents get free a couple of times for (relatively) long runs. If we do that against Grothe he will make us pay running the ball.I don't think we'll see KU do much blitzing, and if we do, I think we have to have an LB or safety spy on Grothe.

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Dirk Medema 6 years ago

Grothe also thru an interception late against UCF that started the 14 pt swing that tied the game late. He obviously isn't over his knack for forcing attempts to make plays. Look for the 'Hawks to have a couple picks that lead to the decisive points.Rock Chalk

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eastcoasthawk 6 years ago

KU needs to step up to this challenge. IT'S GAMEDAY! BRING IT HAWKS!

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Ted Toulouse 6 years ago

Here's to reviving his nightmare! Have fun picking off the ball guys! And knock his block off when he runs at you!Hawks Roll 35-14IT'S GAMEDAY!!!!

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JJHawq 6 years ago

Our linebackers will make him notice them if he tucks and runs too often... Big Joe will bring the pain.

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gleece 6 years ago

Thanks for great leads on watching the game, everyone. I'm feeling hopeful and I'll let you know how it turned out.

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JBurtin 6 years ago

"We can't get cocky tonight"Very true.I'm afraid of the fact that in the last two games our team has been playing like a team with nothing left to prove.We already won the Orange Bowl, there's only one more rung on the ladder higher than that. If we don't go up that rung, then there's only one direction to go.I think we'd all be ecstatic to see our team stay on the same rung. Unfortunately, we have some freshmen playing in key positions that have 3 more years to prove themselves. There's not much you can do to get an 18 year old kid with plenty more chances to play like a 23 year old on his last shot.Even the media that most people think is stacked against us is making ridiculous predictions. On one hand, they'll say that Kansas is going to be terrible, then in the next sentence they say that we're going to have a pathetic 9 win season.Last I checked, 9 wins isn't pathetic by Kansas standards. I think some of our guys are expecting us to win 9 games or more, yet playing weak enough that they may cost us several others.Here's to hoping that the coaches have found the right words to say to get the young guys playing hard.

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Ted Toulouse 6 years ago

Yes, this could be the continuation of the red jersey lore in Florida games. Depends on what SFU agrees to.

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Todd Simpson 6 years ago

Gleece if you have verizon dsl or fios you can watch the game live online @ espn360.com

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Ranger35 6 years ago

Is it just me, or didn't the LJW run an article two years ago about how similar Grothe and Meier were? Both were "hot" true freshmen QBs

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beebe1 6 years ago

Probably not. Take the baby and drink cokes in the local sports bar. Likely the best chance. The alternative is to listen to Lawrence Laser. Takes a computer, but you can tune it in on laser.com and hit the listen now button,. You can also hear the "Crimson" program that starts about an hour to hour=and=a=half before game time. Good luck!

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trich424 6 years ago

I don't think KU has been playing like a team nothing to prove, they are merely playing like a team that gets NOTHING from beating weaker teams. ESPN/SI/ EVERYONE dogs them when they win, and dogs them when they lose. Don't underestimate how big this game is, and the toll is took in playing a little sloppy the last game.

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gleece 6 years ago

i got to watch the game on espn360 but it was tough to see. thanks anyway!

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